Always looking for a way to get more vegetables into our diet and knowing my husband will eat anything with pasta, I created this summery vegetable pasta dish with seared scallops. It’s a dish that takes advantage of abundant summer produce.
Seared Scallops with Vegetables and Pasta
Look for dry or chemical-free scallops. Ask if they have been treated with a phosphate solution. Treated scallops absorb water. A brilliant white color is a giveaway. You pay for water weight and they don’t taste as good or sear as well.
Scallops should smell like the ocean, fresh and clean, not strong or fishy. Choose scallops that are close to the same size so they will cook at the same rate. Watch as they select your scallops so you get what you want. Scallops are best cooked the same day. I usually ask the fish counter to package them in an ice bag to transport home, then put them in the fridge on ice in a shallow dish until dinner time.
Prep and Cook Vegetables
Bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta and prep your vegetables. Halve the tomatoes, chop the zucchini and cook the corn. Sauté shallot and garlic in a little olive oil, add the vegetables and cook until they are softened and hot. Keep things warm until your scallops are done.
How to Sear Scallops
To sear scallops you’ll need a good non-stick pan. Check your non-stick pan. If it’s scratchy and the coating is old and flaking, it’s not safe to use. Toss it and invest in a new one.
Unwrap the scallops and allow them to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to get the chill off. Check to see if the abductor muscle is still attached (the “foot”). If it is, remove it. It’s chewy and not nice to eat. Some stores remove it for you.
Sprinkle the scallops with kosher or sea salt. Heat the pan over medium to medium high and add two teaspoons olive oil. Place the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Don’t crowd them. Allow a golden crust to form. This will take a few minutes. Don’t disturb the scallops while they are searing. Watch your heat and turn down if needed. You don’t want them to burn.
When you get a golden crust, turn them over. Pour in the wine (or broth) and immediately cover with the lid. Turn the heat to low. The scallops will finish cooking in about 2 minutes, depending on size and thickness. When done they should still be a little translucent in the center. Don’t overcook them.
To serve, place pasta and vegetables in a wide shallow bowl. For garish, sprinkle on additional fresh chopped herbs, top with scallops and if desired and little drizzle of good finishing olive oil.
Seared Scallops with Vegetables and Pasta
- Non-stick pan
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels 2 ears or use frozen thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced crosswise into rings
- 3 large garlic cloves chopped fine
- 1 dry pint small sweet tomatoes halved
- 2 medium zucchini about a pound
- 2 teaspoons olive oil to sear scallops
- 1 pound large sea scallops
- 2/3 cup dry white wine or broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves torn up
- 8 ounces pasta of choice angel hair, linguine, or spaghetti
- If using fresh corn, bring a pot of water (large enough to hold the ear of corn) to a boil. Add salt and drop corn into the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes and remove the corn. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife and set aside.
- For zucchini, trim off the ends, then cut lengthwise into quarters. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut out the seedy center. Cut each quarter into slices about a ½” (1 cm) wide. Set aside.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions. While the water is coming to a boil, cook the vegetables. In a large sauté or fry pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot add the shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the corn, tomatoes and zucchini. Cook 5-7 minutes until tomatoes soften and zucchini and corn brown a bit. When done turn off the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Keep warm.
- To prepare scallops, pat them dry, then season top and bottom with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat with a 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When hot, place the scallops in a flat, single layer in the pan. Allow them to cook until a golden brown crust forms, then turn carefully. Pour in the wine, cover with a lid immediately and turn heat to low. Cook scallops about another 2 minutes. They will be slightly translucent in the center. Do not over cook them. Depending on size, they will take between 5-7 minutes.
- Place hot pasta in wide shallow bowls and top with vegetables, basil, and scallops. Serve immediately.